Ken Mitchell, chief of the Tull Volunteer Fire Department and pastor at Saline Missionary Baptist Church in Tull, made the ultimate sacrifice Thursday morning.
Mitchell, 59, died while responding to a house fire at 8722 W. Cherry St. in Tull. He was pronounced dead at Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton.
The cause of death is unknown. Mitchell's body was taken to the state Crime Laboratory in Little Rock for an autopsy.
The blaze destroyed a wood-frame house, which was unoccupied. No other injuries were reported.
Firefighters responded to the scene around 10:20 a.m.
Grant County Sheriff's Sgt. Brett Turner said the cause of the fire is unknown and remains under investigation. Authorities said criminal charges could be filed in connection with Mitchell's death if investigators determine that the fire was deliberately set or was caused during the course of a crime.
Authorities did say that some evidence at the scene suggested that the house could have been used at some point for a clandestine methamphetamine lab.
James Simpson, a Tull volunteer firefighter since 1982, said he arrived on scene shortly after Mitchell. He said as firefighters prepared to extinguish the fire, Mitchell went to sit in his truck. Emergency personnel saw Mitchell in distress and pulled him out of the truck to perform CPR, Simpson said.
People who knew Mitchell described him as